Produce aplenty at Double Hart FarmPosted on Jun 26, 2013
Hart is the 76-year-old operator of Double Hart Farm, located about five miles south of Corbin in Whitley County. He has the only large scale farm market in the area, and folks have taken notice. Business is so brisk that he doesn’t have to open on weekends. He gets it all sold 9-to-5 on weekdays, plus through an occasional transaction with other market operators.
Raising tons and tons of fruits and vegetables is another matter, though. That requires many hours for he, his full-time employee and a number of pickers he employs at various times.
“We keep real busy with all this,” Hart said as he gave a visitor a tour of his 135-acre farm.
Hart had a 38-year career with the Soil Conservation Service but was growing vegetables on the family farm long before retiring as district conservationist at the SCS Somerset office. He enrolled the market in KFB’s Certified Roadside Farm Markets program in 1997, the second year of the program that now has more than 90 markets throughout the state. The program’s “horn-of-plenty” promotional sign sits adjacent to his tiny market off U.S. 25 between Corbin and Williamsburg.
He’s also active with KFB, serving as a director in Whitley County.
Around the first of July, when sweet corn and green beans become available, vehicles are parked up and down the highway as customers pour in for the fresh veggies and homegrown tomatoes. Pumpkin season is another peak period, Hart said.
The variety at Double Hart might be unsurpassed for a Kentucky market: Tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, eight varieties of green beans, beets, onions, celery, romaine lettuce, watermelons, pumpkins, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers plus flowers. All that and more sits in fields and greenhouses behind his home, which is adjacent to the market.
“There’s not many vegetables that we don’t grow,” Hart said matter-of-factly.
He has four heated greenhouses plus eight high tunnel greenhouses, also known as “hoop houses.” Those structures are unheated but help to extend the growing season by slowly elevating natural heat. They protect crops from low temperatures in the spring and fall.
Hart’s full-time employee, Paul Young, has worked there for over 25 years. He has a partnership with Vicki D. Smith on the green beans.
Hart also has an unusual regular visitor to the back of his property: A black bear.
“But he hasn’t caused any damage,” Hart said. “We have more of a problem with coons and crows.”
While he had a long career helping farmers with conservation practices and programs, raising produce has always been in the cards for Gerald Hart. His late mother was a supermarket produce manager, and he won a big contest for strawberry production as a youth.
“I really love doing this and seeing our customers enjoy what we grow.”